March 18, 2014

Biotin for Healthy Hair Growth: The Pros and Cons.

A quick search on google for "vitamins for hair growth" yields countless results and brands, all promising to help usher in strong, vibrant, and growing hair. Amid proprietary blends and secret formulas, there is one ingredient at the core of every hair boosting vitamin: biotin.

Biotin, formally known as Vitamin H, is technically a complex B vitamin with a coenzyme. It supports healthy hair, nails, skin, nerves, digestion, and metabolism. It is even believed to help regulate blood sugar (when paired with chromium), and decrease insulin resistance (on its own) - both great news for those with type 2 diabetes. As far as hair and nails are concerned, it is believed that biotin improves the infrastructure of keratin -- the protein that they're made of, particularly for those individuals deficient in Biotin.

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Although most vitamin blends contain 500mcg or more of biotin (and some supplements alone go upwards of 1000 or 5000mcg), the daily recommended dose of biotin is about 2.5mg (2500mcg) for adults. You don't necessarily need to take a special supplement to get the beauty benefits of this vitamin though -- there are plenty of food sources such as wheat germ, whole wheat bread, swiss chard, salmon, chicken, eggs, and dairy that contain biotin. Deficiencies in biotin (although somewhat rare) can lead to brittle nails and hair loss.

With all the information out there, how can you be certain that a hair growth vitamin or biotin supplement is for you? Let's take a look at some of the more definitive pros and cons:

-Affordable and widely available
-Helps the body process energy and and transport carbon dioxide from cells
-Can help strengthen nail cuticles and hair, warding off thinning and breakage of both
-Supports skin health, and can help ward off psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and other rashes
-Believed to aid in weight loss- when paired with chromium the vitamin supports a quicker breakdown of fats and carbohydrates, leading to a higher resting metabolic rate
-Improves blood sugar regulation

-Can lead to skin breakouts, acne, and rashes (if overdosed)
-Raw eggs interfere with the absorption of biotin
-Interacts with some drugs, specifically those for cholesterol and antibiotics

By and large, it appears the benefits outweigh to potential consequences (of course, unless you are taking a specific drug known to adversely interact) of taking biotin. If you are concerned with acne outbreaks and rashes, here are a few tips on how to help keep your skin clear:
  • Start out at low doses. Anywhere under 500mcg is ideal. If your body tolerates it well, you can move up as far as you feel comfortable doing.
  • Try taking biotin alone at first, instead of as a part of a multivitamin. This can be difficult to do, but it will help you better assess how your body tolerates biotin. If you feel all is well after a few weeks, it should be safe to incorporate biotin into a multivitamin regimen.
  • Be sure to get adequate levels of vitamins A, C, E, and Zinc. All these vitamins and minerals assist in the production of healthy skin cells, collagen, and acne treatment.
  • Drink Apple Cider Vinegar. This is a personal anecdotal piece of advice from me -- I drink a 1-2 tablespoons of diluted ACV every night before bed. It has helped keep breakouts at bay, and even got rid of some pesky bumps I had along my jawline before I began taking the vitamin.
  • At the end of the day, biotin can be beneficial for a number of health and beauty-related reasons. However, this vitamin isn't for everyone and the pros and cons should carefully be examined before trying it out for yourself.
Do you use Biotin supplements? What dosage? Share your experiences below!

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